Savannah is an American prime time television soap opera that ran from January 21, 1996 to February 24, 1997 on The WB. Created by Constance M. Burge and produced by Aaron Spelling, it was the first one-hour program to air on The WB network. Savannah starred Jamie Luner, Robyn Lively and Shannon Sturges as a trio of friends challenged by outside forces and each other. The first season of the series was The WB's most successful program at the time, but the show was cancelled after two seasons.

Title Card
GenreSoap opera
Created byConstance M. Burge
Theme music composerChristopher L. Stone
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes34
Executive producers
Production locationsAtlanta and Savannah, Georgia
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time45 Minutes
Production companySpelling Television
Original release
NetworkThe WB
ReleaseJanuary 21, 1996 (1996-01-21) –
February 24, 1997 (1997-02-24)

Plot edit

Set in the southern city of Savannah, Georgia, the series revolves around three female friends: naive rich girl Reese Burton (Shannon Sturges), noble Lane McKenzie (Robyn Lively), and scheming bad girl Peyton Richards (Jamie Luner). Lane had previously left Savannah after graduating from college to become a successful journalist in New York City, but returns for the wedding of her childhood best friend Reese to Travis Peterson (George Eads). Finding out that her apartment in New York has been burglarized, Lane tries to collect on an inheritance, but discovers that Travis has stolen every penny of it. Travis has also, as Reese is devastated to discover, been having an affair with a girl he calls "Bunny", who is actually Peyton, Reese's so-called friend and daughter of the Burton family's maid. Peyton envies Reese's wealth and is keen to marry for money.

Travis is soon found dead, and the first season revolves around the whodunit murder mystery and subsequent court case. Considerable intrigue surrounds the machinations of Tom Massick (Paul Satterfield), a stranger with a score to settle, as well as the identity of Peyton's father, who turns out to be Reese's father Edward (Ray Wise), making Peyton and Reese half-sisters. Cassandra "Cassie" Wheeler (Alexia Robinson), longtime friend of the three other women, joined the cast in the second season, and Eads returned as Travis's identical twin Nick.

Cast edit

Main edit

Recurring edit

Episodes edit

Series overview edit

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
112January 21, 1996 (1996-01-21)April 7, 1996 (1996-04-07)
222August 26, 1996 (1996-08-26)February 24, 1997 (1997-02-24)

Season 1 (1996) edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Wedding Belle Blues"Richard LangDianne Messina Stanley & James StanleyJanuary 21, 1996 (1996-01-21)[1]

Part 1: Lane MacKenzie, a sensible aspiring journalist living in New York City, returns to her hometown of Savannah, Georgia for the wedding of her best friend Reese Burton, a wealthy, trusting, virginal, very naïve Southern belle, to Travis Peterson, a wealthy bank employee who is secretly embezzling funds from the local bank. Lane and Reese's best friend, the scheming and amoral Peyton Richards, daughter of the Burtons' housekeeper, seductively influences Travis to steal Lane's life savings.

Part 2: Following Travis' death, Peyton worries that she might have killed him by hitting him on the head with a liquor bottle.
33"Sex, Pies and Videotape"Eleanore LindoConstance M. BurgeFebruary 4, 1996 (1996-02-04)
44"Who Killed Travis?"Harry HarrisLynn Marie LathamFebruary 11, 1996 (1996-02-11)
55"The Purloined Letter"Eleanore LindoLawrence H. LevyFebruary 18, 1996 (1996-02-18)
66"Where There's Smoke, There's Fire"Harry HarrisLynn Marie LathamFebruary 25, 1996 (1996-02-25)
77"Information, Please"James DarrenJames StanleyMarch 3, 1996 (1996-03-03)
88"Playing With the Enemy"Harvey FrostLynn Marie LathamMarch 10, 1996 (1996-03-10)
99"Prince of Lies"Parker StevensonConstance M. BurgeMarch 17, 1996 (1996-03-17)
1010"From Here to Paternity"Eleanore LindoBernardo SolanoMarch 24, 1996 (1996-03-24)
1111"Creep Throat"Harvey FrostConstance M. Burge & Liz CoeMarch 31, 1996 (1996-03-31)
1212"The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth"Eleanore LindoConstance M. Burge & Dianne Messina Stanley & James StanleyApril 7, 1996 (1996-04-07)

Season 2 (1996–97) edit

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
131"Dead Man Walking"Harvey FrostJames Stanley & Diane Messina StanleyAugust 26, 1996 (1996-08-26)
142"Pearls Before Swine"Eleanore LindoConstance M. BurgeSeptember 23, 1996 (1996-09-23)
153"The Family Jewels"Harvey FrostBernard LechowickSeptember 30, 1996 (1996-09-30)
Peyton and Nick outfox each other in their quest for the elusive Centurion Emerald; Tom tries to save Reese from the trumped-up drug possession charges by seducing a policewoman; and Dean and Reese follow up a lead to an old farmhouse to rescue Lane. Just when all seems lost, Peyton gets a glittery surprise.
164"A Picture Is Worth..."Eleanore LindoMichael Perricone & Greg ElliotOctober 7, 1996 (1996-10-07)
175"My Fair Ladies"Harvey FrostLynn Marie LathamOctober 14, 1996 (1996-10-14)
186"Vengeance Is Mine"Eleanore LindoBernard LechowickOctober 21, 1996 (1996-10-21)
197"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Boat"Richard LangConstance M. BurgeOctober 28, 1996 (1996-10-28)
208"Burn, Baby, Burn"Stefan ScainiJames Stanley & Lynn Marie LathamNovember 4, 1996 (1996-11-04)
219"Diary of a Mad Rich Wife"Richard LangJames Stanley & Diane Messina StanleyNovember 11, 1996 (1996-11-11)
2210"Good Golly, Aunt Lottie"Stefan ScainiJames Stanley, Dianne Messina Stanley & Lynn Marie LathamNovember 18, 1996 (1996-11-18)
2311"The Battle of Midway"UnknownUnknownNovember 25, 1996 (1996-11-25)
2412"Never Too Late"UnknownUnknownDecember 2, 1996 (1996-12-02)
2513"True Love Never Dies"James DarrenBernard LechowickDecember 9, 1996 (1996-12-09)
2614"Get Me to the Church on Time"UnknownUnknownDecember 16, 1996 (1996-12-16)
2715"Dressed to Shill"UnknownUnknownJanuary 6, 1997 (1997-01-06)
2816"Every Picture Tells a Story"UnknownUnknownJanuary 13, 1997 (1997-01-13)
2917"The Morning After"Eleanore LindoConstance M. Burge & Diane Messina Stanley & James StanleyJanuary 20, 1997 (1997-01-20)
3018"The Gal to Marry Dear Old Dad"UnknownUnknownFebruary 3, 1997 (1997-02-03)
3119"Code Blue"UnknownUnknownFebruary 10, 1997 (1997-02-10)
3220"Where There's a Will..."James DarrenPeter DunneFebruary 17, 1997 (1997-02-17)
3321"Oh No, Mr. Bill"UnknownUnknownFebruary 24, 1997 (1997-02-24)
3422"I Don't"UnknownUnknownFebruary 24, 1997 (1997-02-24)

Development edit

Savannah was the first drama series produced for The WB, which had been launched in January 1995 and featured primarily sitcoms.[2][3] Garth Ancier, president of the WB's entertainment division, said, "We believe there's a tremendous opportunity to attract female viewers with a one-hour drama opposite the networks' three competing two-hour movies, much the way Fox has attracted a male-oriented audience with its one-hour comedy block ... on Sunday nights."[3]

Executive producer Aaron Spelling called Savannah "a young Dynasty", referring the 1980s prime time soap also produced by Spelling, as well as "a little touch of Gone with the Wind if it were done in 1996."[4]

The series focuses on three young women who share a life long friendship but as adults have little in common.[3] Reese Burton is described as a "rich and pampered",[4] yet naive, woman "who remains unselfish despite her wealth and privilege."[3] Lane MacKenzie is perky[4] and levelheaded, and "remains loyal to her friends despite a run of bad luck."[3] Peyton Richards is the "bad girl",[4] and a "street-wise" woman who is jealous of Reese's wealth and pending marriage, and whose "impetuous nature seems certain to test the bonds of friendship—especially when she goes after her friend Reese's fiancé [Travis]."[3] Travis, who turns out to be "the nastiest guy this side of J. R. Ewing", is also "the most multifaceted liar in the world" while pretending to be nice.[4] The Deseret News notes that Reese's father [Edward] loves his daughter very, very much but has a secret; the mysterious [Tom] falls in love with Reese very, very much but has a secret; [and] upright cop [Dean] really loves Lane from point one, but he has two secrets.[4]

Locations and filming edit

The show was filmed entirely on location in the U.S. state of Georgia.[4] Initially, exterior scenes were shot in both Savannah and Atlanta, Georgia.[citation needed] Locations and landmarks featured included the Eugene Talmadge Memorial Bridge, Forsyth Park, River Street, and Bonaventure Cemetery.[citation needed] Towards the end of season two, scenes were no longer filmed at the exterior locations for many of the show's main sets. These were replaced by stock establishing-shot footage and scenes were filmed entirely in Atlanta.[citation needed]

Broadcast history edit

Savannah's first season was broadcast between January 21, 1996 and April 7, 1996. The first two episodes were shown together as a two-hour Saturday "sneak preview" of the upcoming series.[1][3][4] The remaining season one episodes were shown on Sunday nights.[3] The show was the most successful program on The WB at the time, and by April 1996 had been renewed for a second season.[5]

During its second season, Savannah was moved to Monday nights, the 22 second season episodes broadcast between August 26, 1996 and February 24, 1997 at 9:00 pm following 7th Heaven.[6] It was cancelled at the end of the season.[7] Ancier noted that the show had "a rough season creatively", and attributed its cancellation to the fact that "serial dramas don't repeat well, making the investment too expensive".[7] Its mid season replacement would be the eventual cult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer.[7]

The first season was broadcast in the United Kingdom on 28 June 1996 on ITV in a prime time slot and became the highest rated new American series of that year.[citation needed] However, the second season was not network broadcast, and was shown in different ITV regions at different times in the late 1990s;[citation needed] for instance, it was not broadcast in the Central region until May 1999.[8]

Reception edit

Scott D. Pierce of the Deseret News wrote of the Savannah premiere that "in an era where prime-time soaps have become campy and downright stupid, this new serial is sort of classy. In a trashy kind of way."[4] Pierce also described the show as "lush, lusty and lively ... We're not talking brain food here, but it does look like rather tasty junk food", and credited writers Jim Stanley and Diane Messina Stanley for making Savannah "a cut above Spelling's other prime-time soaps, Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210."[4]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Variety staff (December 17, 1995). "WB Net Revamps Sunday Slate". Variety. Retrieved June 3, 2020.
  2. ^ Cerone, Daniel Howard (January 2, 1995). "New Year Brings 2 New Networks: WB Television and United Paramount Prepare for Their Premieres This Month. But Can They Really Survive Against the Big Four?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Aaron Spelling takes dramatic turn with new Savannah". Rome News-Tribune. January 19, 1996. Retrieved June 11, 2020 – via Google News Archive.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Pierce, Scott D. (January 19, 1996). "Sure, prime-time soap Savannah is trash, but it's well-done trash". Deseret News. Retrieved June 11, 2020 – via Google News Archive.
  5. ^ Jewel, Dan (April 29, 1996). "Luner Takeoff". People. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  6. ^ Abbott, Jim (May 15, 1996). "WB Moves Savannah To Monday Night in Fall". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved May 24, 2022.
  7. ^ a b c Hontz, Jenny; Levin, Gary (May 14, 1997). "New dramas to fill WB's Tuesday night". Variety. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  8. ^ Central & Night-Time Continuity 20th/21st May 1999. YouTube. Event occurs at 1:31. Retrieved June 8, 2022.

External links edit